Work of the Week: "Nature...Who Needs It?" by Kimowan Metchewais (Kim McLain)

Date: Nov 1, 2019

Indigenous artist Kimowan Metchewais (Kim McLain) was a mixed-media artist, often employing photography, drawing and found objects in his work.

When asked about his art, Metchewais said:

“I try to make art that moves lightly through the world to exemplify qualities of Native North American culture, especially those aspects that often go unnoticed, despite their importance. I believe it is a good time to share essential lessons about the oldest cultures on this continent. My modern studio art practice has helped to me hone my message – that we can make grand beauty and sincere rhetoric with radical simplicity.

I tend to think of art as a form of magic, except, unlike the work of illusionists, the cause for effect is laid bare for the viewer to see and still works; whereas, once the magician’s trick is known, the effect no longer works. I am in search of elegant solutions to challenges of narrative in space.

I make objects and work in ways that exemplify tenets of my culture – taking nothing more than needed, while making places and experiences that help people expand their notions of humanity and how it is located within a cosmos. So my two favorite sayings are, “living off the fat of the land” and “working smarter, not harder." I have a dire need to tell people that much can be made with little as an antidote to the thoughtless consumerism and excessive draw from Earth’s resources.”  (Artist statement from New Native Photography exhibition, 2011, Andrew Smith Gallery).

About the Artist: Kimowan Metchewais (Kim McLain) (1963-2011)

Kimowan Metchewais (Kim McLain) was born in Oxbow, Saskatchewan in 1963. In his youth, his artistic skills gained him attention, and as a young man he studied at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary (now the Alberta University of the Arts).

Metchewais worked for Windspeaker, Canada's national Indigenous news source, for many years as a cartoonist, a writer, an advertiser, as well as a production editor. His cartoons commented on government, the environment, and political concerns. His works evoked outrage as well as respect.

Later in his career, Metchewais incorporated the use of photographs into his work. His eclectic collection is comprised of pieces of work that are hauntingly beautiful, because of colour choices and fluidity of the work. His works have been exhibited in galleries across the United States and Canada.

Metchewais passed away in 2011 after a final, courageous battle against cancer.


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